Samyuktagama 81

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Saṃyuktāgama 81. Discourse on Pūraṇa

Thus have I heard. At one time the Buddha was staying at Vesalī in the Hall with the Peaked Roof by the side of the Monkey Pond.

At that time there was a Licchavi by the name of Mahānāma, who every day used to roam around. While he was approaching the Buddha, that Licchavi thought: ‘If I were to approach the Blessed One in the morning, then the Blessed One and the monks known to me will all be meditating. Let me now approach the ājīvikas and heterodox practitioners who are at the Seven Mango Trees.’ He approached the place where Pūraṇa Kassapa stayed.

Then Pūraṇa Kassapa, being the leader of an assembly of heterodox practitioners, was surrounded on all sides by five hundred heterodox practitioners, who were making a loud clamour discussing worldly things. Then Pūraṇa Kassapa, on seeing from afar that the Licchavi Mahānāma was coming, told his followers that they should stay quiet: “You be silent! This is the Licchavi Mahānāma, who is a disciple of the recluse Gotama. Among those who are white clothed disciples of the recluse Gotama in Vesalī he is foremost. They always delight in quietude and commend quietude. He approaches quiet assemblies, therefore you should be quiet.”

Then Mahānāma approached the assembly of Pūraṇa and exchanged polite greetings with Pūraṇa. Having friendly greeted each other, he withdrew to sit at one side. Then Mahānāma said to Pūraṇa: “I heard that Pūraṇa gives this teaching to his disciples: ‘There is no cause, there is no condition for the defilement of living beings; there is no cause, there is no condition for the purification of living beings.’

“In the world, is there such a doctrine? Is this truly yours? Or is this a saying by an outsider to discredit you? Is this composed by people in the world, is this your teaching or is this not your teaching? Are there people in the world who have discussed this with you, closely questioned you about it, and criticized it?”

Pūraṇa Kassapa said: “It is true that there is such a doctrine by me, it is not handed down wrongly in the world. I have established this doctrine, this doctrine is in accordance with my teaching and doctrines. I proclaim this teaching, it is all in line with my teaching and no person in the world has come and, closely questioning me, criticized it. Why is that? Mahānāma, I have this view and make this proclamation: ‘There is no cause, there is no condition for the defilement of living beings; there is no cause, there is no condition for the purification of living beings.’”

Then Mahānāma, hearing what Pūraṇa had said, was not pleased in his mind. Having disapproved of it, he rose from his seat and left. He approached the Blessed One, paid homage with his head at the Buddha’s feet, withdrew to sit at one side and told the Buddha fully the discussion he had had with Pūraṇa.

The Buddha said to the Licchavi Mahānāma: “What that Pūraṇa has said, giving vent to his ideas, is not worth being remembered. Pūraṇa is thus a fool, he does not differentiate and is unskilful. Denying causation, he says this: ‘There is no cause, there is no condition for the defilement of living beings; there is no cause, there is no condition for the purification of living beings.’ Why is that? There is a cause, there is a condition for the defilement of living beings; there is a cause, there is a condition for the purification of living beings.’

“Mahānāma, what is the cause, what is the condition for the defilement of living beings? What is the cause, what is the condition for the purification of living beings?

“Mahānāma, if bodily form were entirely dukkha and unpleasant, not followed by pleasure and not nourishing pleasure, being without pleasure, then living beings would not give rise to delight and attachment because of it. Mahānāma, because bodily form is not entirely dukkha and unpleasant, but is followed by pleasure and nourishes pleasure, being not without pleasure, therefore living beings are defiled by attachment to bodily form. Because of being defiled by attachment, they are tied to it. Because of being tied to it, there is vexation.

“Mahānāma, if feeling … perception … formations … consciousness were entirely dukkha and unpleasant, not followed by pleasure and not nourishing pleasure, being without pleasure, then living beings would not give rise to delight and attachment because of it. Mahānāma, because consciousness is not entirely dukkha and unpleasant, but is followed by pleasure and nourishes pleasure, being not without pleasure, therefore living beings are defiled by attachment to consciousness. Because of being defiled by attachment, they are tied to it. Because of being tied to it, vexation arises.

“Mahānāma, this is called the explanation of: ‘there is a cause, there is a condition for the defilement of living beings.’

“Mahānāma, what is the cause, what is the condition for the purification of living beings?

“Mahānāma, if bodily form were entirely pleasant and not dukkha, not followed by dukkha and not nourishing sorrow and pain, being without dukkha, then living beings would not give rise to disenchantment because of bodily form. Mahānāma, because bodily form is not entirely pleasant and is dukkha, is followed by dukkha and nourishes sorrow and pain, not being without dukkha, therefore living beings give rise to disenchantment towards bodily form. Because of being disenchanted, they do not delight in it. Because of not delighting in it, they are liberated from it.

“Mahānāma, if feeling … perception … formations … consciousness were entirely pleasant and not dukkha, not followed by dukkha and not nourishing sorrow and pain, being without dukkha, then living beings would not give rise to disenchantment because of consciousness. Mahānāma, because feeling … perception … formations … consciousness is not entirely pleasant and is dukkha, is followed by dukkha and nourishes sorrow and pain, not being without dukkha, therefore living beings give rise to disenchantment towards consciousness. Because of being disenchanted, they do not delight in it. Because of not delighting in it, they are liberated from it.

“Mahānāma, this is called the explanation of: ‘There is a cause, there is a condition for the purification of living beings.”

Then Mahānāma, hearing what the Buddha had said, rejoiced and was delighted. He paid respect to the Buddha and left.